Another link opens in KC area’s trail system

An extension of the Shoal Creek Trail that links Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods with Happy Rock Park in the Northland was formally opened Saturday, becoming the latest addition to the MetroGreen trail plan approved 20 years ago.

Kansas City and Gladstone elected leaders and park officials, as well as biking and walking enthusiasts, were on hand for a ribbon-cutting event graced with a perfect morning for a bicycle ride.

The new one-mile section of the trail passes through a scenic, wooded ravine along Shoal Creek, and strollers already were enjoying the flowering trees.

“This is an excellent amenity for the Northland,” said Dan Fowler, an attorney and Northland civic leader who showed up with his bike and full riding gear. “As a bicyclist and runner, this is a great addition for us.”

David Mecklenburg, a member of the Kansas City Board of Parks and Recreation, described the completion of the segment as an example of the cooperation between Kansas City and Gladstone.

“We’ve been working on connectivity in the Northland for years,” Mecklenburg said. “There was nothing before, and it’s a pent-up need being fulfilled.”

Gladstone began working on its section of the trail, which begins at North 72nd Street, in 2007. The addition includes a bridge over Shoal Creek so walkers and bikers no longer have to slosh through water to reach pavement. The 10-foot-wide, concrete trail now stretches 1.5 miles.

The goal is to continue the trail north to Barry Road, bringing it to a total length of 4.2 miles, said project manager Wes Minder.

The cost of the project was $961,429. A $636,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration helped pay for it.

“This symbolizes how government boundaries don’t have to be a barrier,” said Councilman Dick Davis of Kansas City, whose district includes the new section. “Gladstone and Kansas City have been good neighbors for a number of years.”

Deb Ridgway, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for Kansas City, said the city plans to eventually have 230 miles of trail. The MetroGreen system, which envisions more than 1,000 miles of trail in seven counties, was charted and approved in 1991.

“This is a key segment in the Northland,” she said.